What is a CSA and Why Should I Care?

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. A CSA is essentially purchasing a share of a local farm's produce for the season. For the last two years I have purchased a CSA box from Blackbrook Farm. Most farms offer half shares and full shares. A half share is typically every other week over the course of the summer (9 weeks from June-August). A full share is the same sized box, but every week. The CSA box through Blackbrook is amazing. Each week your box gets dropped off at a drop site of your choosing, then you get an email and a newsletter with a note from the farm and information on whats in the box that week. Blackbrook Farm is certified organic and family owned. The full share breaks down to about $32.70/week. The half share is about $36. Considering the amount of organic food you get is such a deal. 

The why behind community supported agriculture (other than the food you get) is an important conversation.

"So this winter, we saw two more Organic vegetable farms call it quits.  Why?  They can't make it work financially on a small scale just by being a CSA farm.  The price to run the farm goes up each year and they can't make enough with what they produce to cash flow through the season.  They have to get off-farm jobs and then realize that they make more money at that, have more family time and are less stressed out. So they decide to stop farming. It makes sense.

James and I have decided we don't want to go down that road.  We are in it to win it (so to speak).  To make it work, for us, for our family and for you.  That means we have had to expand into wholesale markets to cashflow Blackbrook Farm.  The way we look at it is that EVERYONE HAS TO EAT.  And your food has to COME from somewhere.  It shouldn't be California, Chile, Mexico, and China.  We need to figure out how to produce food here because we are losing all of our older farmers to retirement and there is a dearth of young farmers starting ( and for good reason).  California is running out of water, most of our "grass-fed" beef comes from China and when you go to a grocery store in the summer you find the peppers are from another country. WHY?  We can produce peppers here.  

There is a big disconnect about why local food is so incredibly important.  It really is about food security for the future.  It's dire. So, this is an appeal to take a moment to think about that and then figure out how important that is to you and your family.   A half share is about $17.50/week, and on average the vegetables in there are worth much more than that over the course of the season, they were harvested within about 24 hours of when you get them and you know you can trust they were grown using water conservation in mind, with no chemicals, have a higher nutrient density than any commercially grown product and are supporting the local economy.  The list goes on.  You get the picture, or at least we hope you do!  

Our country spends less on food than any other country in the world!  We will spend the equivalent of like $12/lb on a Snickers but are uncomfortable paying what it costs for local Salad Mix or $1.50/lb for local cucumbers.  There is ALOT more that can be said for why this is, as well as food justice and food insecurity in our country.  However, we hope you can ruminate on this a bit and talk it over with each other.  It's worth thinking about."

One way we can make more environmentally friendly choices in our daily lives is through our purchasing power with food choices. When we buy foods that are shipped in from all over the world those shipping methods have huge environmental impacts (not to mention the quality is just not the same, as local and in season foods). If we focus on using our purchasing power to support local farms, then we will naturally be eating in season, supporting smaller scale, local farms that are struggling to compete, and limit the environmental impact by minimizing transportation costs. Additionally, it seems to me, that many smaller farms practice agricultural methods that lead to increased soil fertility, increased nutritional value, and use practices that are better on the animals and plants in their area. 

The picture below is an example of one week's box (minus the flowers). All organic and all delicious. Overall, choosing a CSA share is a really fun and delicious way to support local farmers, limit the environmental impact of your food, and eat more veggies. 

 One of the last boxes from 2017 from Blackbrook Farm. 

One of the last boxes from 2017 from Blackbrook Farm. 

 First box of the season from Blackbrook Farm. 3/4 of a bushel. 

First box of the season from Blackbrook Farm. 3/4 of a bushel.